Types of Disaster Recovery Sites: Cold, Warm, and Hot Sites

One of the key elements in any Disaster Recovery plan is selecting a secondary site for data storage to help prevent data loss in the event of cyber attacks or a natural disaster. DR software will extract critical business data from this secondary site and restore it to primary servers in case of a major system failure. Three major types of disaster recovery sites can be used: cold, warm, and hot sites. Understanding the differences among these three can help SMBs, working in cooperation with an expert IT consultant, to select the one that best suits company needs and mission-critical business operations.

What Are the Three Types of Disaster Recovery Sites?

Disaster Recovery Site Types


  1. Cold Computing Sites - the most simplistic type of disaster recovery site. A cold site consists of elements providing power, networking capability, and cooling. It does not include other hardware elements such as servers and storage. Using a cold site is very limiting to a business since before it can be used, backup data and some additional hardware must be sent to the site and installed. This will impede workflow.

  2. Warm Computing Sites - contain all the elements of a cold site while adding additional elements, including storage hardware such as tape or disk drives, servers, and switches. Warm sites are "ready to go" in one sense, but they still need to have data transported for use in recovery should a disaster occur.

  3. Hot Computing Sites - a fully functional backup site that already has important data mirrored to it. This is the ideal disaster recovery site, but it can be challenging to attain. 




Why Are Disaster Recovery Solutions Important?

. Network Downtime Is Expensive

If your employees or customers lose access to business-critical applications and data, there will be a direct impact on productivity and revenue. Let’s say your business has 100 employees, the average hourly revenue is $1,500, and the backup data set amounts to 2 TB. Given these parameters, a full restore from a local backup would take over 8 hours. The associated downtime cost would amount to $34,000 in lost revenue. Modern BCDR products offer the ability to run applications from backup instances of virtual servers. This allows users to continue operations while primary application servers are restored.

2. Data Backup Isn't Sufficient on its Own

You’d be hard-pressed to find a business today that doesn’t conduct some form of data backup. But what happens if your primary servers are irrevocably damaged? That's why it's essential to send copies of business data offsite. Modern BCDR products can run applications from backup instances of virtual servers, and some can extend this capability to the cloud. This approach is frequently called cloud DR or disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). The ability to run applications in the cloud while onsite infrastructure is restored is widely considered a game-changer for disaster recovery. Backup and business continuity are different - your business needs both.

3. Data Disasters Take Many Forms

Most IT downtime results from common, everyday actions like accidental (or intentional) data deletion, damage to computer hardware, and poor security habits. For example, a recent OWI Labs survey found that 81% of respondents occasionally or regularly log into public wifi, despite security risks. A ransomware attack or virus can halt operations as easily as a natural disaster. These are typically the result of human error but are preventable with BCDR planning and ongoing employee training. 

4. Business Continuity Impacts Everyone

Ensuring access to applications and data following a disaster is just one piece of a successful BCDR strategy. Thorough BCDR planning should assess your business as a whole, and many planning efforts begin with an impact analysis or risk assessment. These studies can reveal weaknesses in your business's ability to continue operations. BCDR is a company-wide responsibility; failure to protect your business from human error and system failures can be detrimental. Fortunately, by working with a skilled Managed Services Provider (MSP), you can avoid the fallout of poor BCDR planning. If you're looking for more information about BCDR strategies or are interested in a risk assessment, contact iCorps for a free consultation.

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